My style of cooking has most definitely changed over the past year. I’ve become a lot less interested in making vegetarian food that is a replacement or fanciful take on a meat dish, cooking recipes that can hold their own using just a handful of fresh ingredients. This in turn has influenced exciting new projects and my everyday style of eating.
An exception to all of this is the smashed chickpea salad sandwich: a reimagined egg or tuna or chicken salad sandwich (mind you, I like my smashed chickpea salad on a bed of lettuce, but that’s neither here nor there).
This recipe doesn’t rely on fancy kitchen equipment. No high-speed blenders, food processors, or hard-to-find components. A handful of fresh ingredients, a bowl, and a fork (or pastry cutter) are all you need––minimalist and accessible whole foods cooking.
I don’t know why I love this so much. It’s more than the fact that it tastes great, which it does (if I do say so myself). You wouldn’t think the ingredients go together, but then it sneaks up and bites you on the butt, surprising you with its addictiveness.
Maybe it’s the large amount of mayonnaise in the dressing. Maybe it’s the springy sweet green pea pebbles that delicately pop, adding a character to each bite. Perhaps it’s the fresh basil. It could be the potato chip-crispy celery. Or, it could be that this comes together in about 10 minutes. But I think it’s the chickpeas. I smash them using a pastry cutter––which is not required, but far easier and faster than a fork or potato masher––leaving them with their edges roughed up to absorb the dressing, binding it all together.
At first bite, it tastes familiar.
You may think to yourself, this tastes curiously like chicken and/or tuna salad.
And then, if you’re a vegetarian, you’ll have an internal battle about whether or not you should be enjoying it so much because it kind of does taste like chicken or tuna salad (although, I can’t quite place which one), but then you immediately stop worrying because it’s just so delicious and you’ll reach for spoonful after spoonful.
Gimmicky or not, the smashed chickpea salad, which I haven’t a clue who invented, is the best thing to come out the vegetarian kitchen since smoked tofu. Try this in a wrap, sandwiched between seeded bread, on crostini, on top of lettuce, or as is.
And, if you’re looking for a traditional take on the chicken (or tuna or egg) salad without the chicken (or tuna or egg), skip the curry and currants, replacing them with dill and pickles. My talented, ever-supportive friend Traci, creator of one of my favourite recipe blogs, Vanilla & Bean, can help you out with this; she just posted a gorgeous smashed chickpea salad sandwich that I can’t wait to whip up. Take note: the way to my heart is through pickles.
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 3 cups cooked chickpeas
- 1½ cups diced celery
- 1 cup fresh or frozen, defrosted green peas
- ½ cup sliced fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons dried currants or raisins
- 8 cups spring mix lettuce
- Lemon juice or balsamic vinegar
- Sea salt, to taste
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- Make the Curry Mayo: In a small bowl, combine all mayo ingredients.
- Make the Spring Smashed Chickpea Salad: In a large bowl, roughly smash chickpeas with a pastry cutter or fork, leaving plenty of texture. Add remaining salad ingredients and mayo; mix well to incorporate.
- To Serve: In a large bowl, toss lettuce with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar; season with salt. To bowls, add a bed of lettuce; top with chickpea salad and sunflower seeds. Serve.
Spring Smashed Chickpea Salad: 4 days
Curry Mayo: 1 week